Appleton Estate Reserve was awarded the prestigious 2012 Ultimate Spirits Challenge Chairman's Trophy, surpassing all other brands as the top overall selection in the rum category. Appleton Estate Reserve received a first place score of 96 points and an "Extraordinary, Ultimate Recommendation" from the panel of esteemed judges!
Held in New York City each year, the Ultimate Spirits Challenge has quickly become one of the premier spirits tasting competitions. Leading industry expert and event founder F. Paul Pacult served on the elite judging panel, along with other prominent authors, spirits buyers, journalists, bar owners, consultants, and educators. The panel judged each entry for superior quality and value.
Appleton Estate 12 Year Old was also a finalist in the rum category, scoring an exceptional 93 points with an "Excellent, High Recommendation" from the judges.
Jeff "Beachbum" Berry, archaeologist of lost Tiki drinks, once proposed a recipe for what he called the "$100 Mai Tai." (The sobriquet was earned because the ingredients would run around a C-note when purchased.)
His recipe included Saint James Hors D'Age Martinique rum and Appleton Estate Extra Jamaican rum as the featured ingredients. This undoubtedly makes for one helluva good cocktail, but I've never tried it, as I don't have any Saint James.
The Bum subsequently proposed a variation on the recipe, which includes the Appleton Estate Extra (again), but subs in Rhum Clément VSOP for the Saint James. This combination has also found favor with Matt "RumDood" Robold, who had the insight to make a further variation, replacing the orange curaçao with Clément Créole Shrubb (an orange liqueur made with a rum base).
Happily I do have these ingredients, so recently I mixed one up. Here is a picture of the result:
It was very tasty, one of the best drinks I've had. (My wife liked it so much she had me make her one, too.) It has a slightly different flavor from the version made with Appleton Extra and El Dorado demerara rum that I discussed previously – a little more robust, maybe.
Rhum Clément VSOP is a rhum agricole, a variety of rum made (mostly) in Martinique that is distilled from fresh sugar-cane juice, rather than the more common molasses. The Clément VSOP has a more rustic, spicy taste that I find marries very well with the Appleton Extra.
I definitely liked this version better than the one I made a while back using a different rhum agricole, Depaz Blue Cane, instead of the Clement VSOP. Those are the only two rhum agricoles I have, but I still have other combinations, including a couple more demeraras, to try.
Appleton Estate V/X Jamaican Rum Final Grade: B+ Price: $18 (750ml)
For my first spirits review I've chosen one of my old stand-by rums. The entry-level product from Appleton Estate, the V/X bottling is a full-bodied Jamaican rum, golden both in color and in taste. I've singled it out because it's one of the best mixing rums I've found, and also one of the most affordable.
Jamaican rums are distilled from molasses and are known for their dark, rich taste, with elements of caramel and spice. Two of the best known brands of Jamaican rum are Myer's and Coruba, but I prefer the various Appleton Estate bottlings.
Appleton Estate V/X is a blend of 15 different rums that have been aged in oak barrels (reportedly ones that were previously used to hold Jack Daniels whiskey). In this sense, it is similar to a blended Scotch, like Johnnie Walker.
The rum has a mild, sweet aroma with whiffs of brown sugar and vanilla. The brown sugar comes through in the flavor as well, along with a fairly strong alcohol bite. There's maybe a hint of orange in there, too.*
This isn't a rum you're probably going to want to sip. The alcohol is a little too hot for that. For drinking neat, you'd be better off with one of the more expensive Appleton rums, like the Extra (12 Year Old). It does, however, mix beautifully.
The V/X works very well in a Mai Tai, along with other classic cocktails such as a Rum and Coke (Cuba Libre) or Pina Colada. You probably don't want to use this in a Daiquiri because of the amber color. You might mix it in an El President, though.
Considering how reasonably priced Appleton Estate V/X is, this makes a solid choice as a go-to rum for most occasions. My liquor cabinet is never without it.
Quality Grade: B Value Grade: A Final Grade: B+
*I'll let you know upfront that I don't have a very sophisticated palate when it comes to picking out individual flavors from the complicated taste of spirits. My goal with these reviews is to give more of an overall sense of the spirit, not to deconstruct it as some critics are able to do. I admire their ability — I just don't have it.